Romans Lesson 95 - Jesus Loves Me, This I Know
What are you most afraid of in this world? Christ has conquered it. What consistently knocks you down? Christ has overcome it. What accusation does the enemy keep whispering in your ear? Christ has forgiven it. That's the gospel. That's the truth that grips us every second of our lives.
“Jesus Loves Me, This I Know”
That little chorus, Jesus Loves Me, has no doubt influenced more children for Jesus Christ than any other chorus or hymn.
The lyrics were written by Anna Warner, in her best selling novel, published in 1860, entitled, “Say and Seal.” It was just a poem, in this novel, spoken by one of the main characters as he comforted a little boy who was dying. Simple lyrics, but to the point.
Jesus loves me, this I know,
For the Bible tells me so,
Little ones to Him Belong,
They are weak but He is strong.
Yes, Jesus loves me,
Yes, Jesus loves me,
Yes, Jesus loves me,
For the Bible tells me so.
Kenneth W. Osbeck, 101 Hymn Stories (Kregel Publications, 1982), p. 47
This little chorus has not only affected children, but adults of all ages as well. There’s something soothing and powerful about this incredible reminder of God’s unfailing love through Jesus Christ.
Donald Grey Barnhouse told the story about an American/ Korean who was enlisted during the Korean War, 50 years ago, as a chaplain. He was a committed believer, and since he knew the Korean language, he was assigned to try and bring some sense of order to the compounds where North Korean soldiers were imprisoned, having been captured by allied forces. He didn’t know what to do and even how to begin. The Lord prompted him to do something unusual. As he entered the first holding pen, where several hundred soldiers were interred, he spoke to them in their own language. They immediately crowded around to hear what this American Korean had to say. He began to teach them how to sing a rough translation of this chorus, “Jesus Loves Me.” Then he taught them what the words meant. He went from section to section of those vast compounds and repeated the same method – teaching them to sing the song – then teaching them what it meant.
I read where over the course of the next months, several thousand communist soldiers placed their faith in Jesus Christ. And after the war, they refused to re-join the Communist party. Their ministries throughout Korea will take eternity to calculate all the fruit.
Adapted from Donald G. Barnhouse, Romans: Volume Three (Eerdmans, 1959), p. 189
It doesn’t get any simpler, or richer than that – Jesus loves me.
And this is the closing song of Romans chapter 8. Jesus Loves Me is the pinnacle of Divine truth for the believer.
This is the song of the believer’s security.
In this final paragraph, Paul questions the tenacity of Christ’s love in verse 35 and throughout this passage he answers and emphasizes and underscores and accentuates and illustrates, not only the tenacity, but the permanency of Christ’s love for the believer.
You just can’t stop it!
And Paul anticipates his audience asking, “But Paul, there are things that happen in my life that might cause me to stop loving Jesus – are they evidences that He has stopped loving me?”
What kind of things?
Paul lists them in verse 35 – like tribulation, or distress, or persecution, or famine or nakedness, or peril, or sword? (I mean, listen Paul, isn’t it even written somewhere that) “For God’s sake we are being put to death all day long; we were considered as sheep to be slaughtered.”
What kind of love is that?!
Paul quotes from David’s Psalm, chapter 44, which gives prophetic description to the martyrdom of believers during the tribulation period. A time when the blood of those new believer’s, saved after the rapture of the church has taken place, who follow Christ and refuse to follow the Anti-Christ.
They will die in such a number that they are given special commendation in the Book of Revelation.
But this blood bath in some measure has occurred and is occurring in the world-wide church of Jesus Christ in every generation – where even today, some 600 thousand believers will give up their lives every single year.
To the Roman believer who will encounter horrific persecution, being crucified and beheaded and burned and drowned; impaled on stakes and covered with pitch and then lit on fire as Nero celebrates another garden party.
Surely this means that Christ no longer loves the church! That the believer is experiencing the loss of the love of Christ.
Paul answers by refocusing our perspective on eternity. Notice verse 37. But in all these things we overwhelmingly conquer through Him who loved us.
Now when you think of an animal that is victorious, you don’t tend to think of sheep.
When you think of victory in battle you don’t picture little lambs.
You think of lions or elephants or eagles.
Not sheep. Sheep don’t stand a chance!
Would you notice in verse 37 that the victory is not by the strength of the sheep but the strength of the Shepherd.
We conquer through Him who loved us!
It doesn’t matter how weak you are – what matters is how strong your Shepherd is!
David said in Psalm 23, “Hey everyone, look at who my Shepherd is . . . it is the Lord; and because the Lord is my Shepherd, I don’t lack anything of true importance.”
And everything David lists in that Psalm –
protection from enemies,
correction, comfort and
eternal safety through death
– is a direct result of the Divine power and strength and character and comfort and love and dedication of the Shepherd . . . not the sheep.
We ultimately conquer through Him!
Now . . just how victorious are we through Him?
I love this phrase. A. T. Robertson translates it, “We gain a surpassing victory”, or, “We are more than conquerors,” the King James translates it. Or, in the New American Standard, “We overwhelmingly conquer.”
All those translations with all those words are simply trying to translate one Greek compound verb.
Hypernikomen – and what a word it is! This is the only time it ever appears in the Bible.
A. T. Robertson, Word Pictures in the New Testament: Volume 4 (Baker Book House, 1931) p. 379
The first part of the word is the Greek word, “huper/hyper.” When we hear the word hyper, we tend to think of 3 year olds driving everybody crazy with all their non-stop activity and noise. For us it has a negative connotation.
However, in the Latin this is translated “super” which gives us a little different perspective. It means above – greater – spectacular.
You could say super-terrific . . . super-fantastic . . . super-wonderful. All those things a mother feels when her three year old finally goes to sleep . . . she finally has super-quiet!
The second half of this word is the verb nikao (nikaw) which means victory. We pronounce it nike. It means victory.
It’s the most universally known symbol and title in the sports world – it’s on tennis shoes, rackets, jackets, golf clubs, caps and a thousand more things.
It means victory!
Last night I was in my study, it was around 7:30 when my 10 year old daughter called from the road – she and her mother were on their way back from the AWANA Olympic games in Greensborough. Our church AWANA ministry sent teams down to compete in state-wide competition. My little daughter was so excited as she said to me on the mobile phone, “Daddy, we won second place out of everybody.” I said, “That’s fantastic, I’m so glad to hear how well you guys did.” Then she said, “Will you put this in your sermon?” Her second sentence, “Will you put this in your sermon?” I said, “Sweetheart, I can’t just put in my sermon something you’ve accomplished . . . we have a lot of things happening around here that I never mention.” “Oh, please Daddy, we talked about it and the whole team wants you to say that we won.” I said, “Charity, I can’t do that just because you and the whole team wants me to . . .” She said, “Okay.” We hung up. That’s how I feel about it . . . and that’s why I decided not to say anything about it in my sermon
Let’s see, where was I?
The truth is, there is few things more exciting than victory. And that’s why we want to tell everybody!
Which is what Paul is doing here!
In I Corinthians 15:54, Paul speaks of Christ’s victory over death – and uses the verb nikaw.
It’s used by the Apostle John as he writes, “For whatever is born of God overcomes the world; and this is the victory that has overcome the world – our faith. And who is the one who overcomes the world, but he who believes that Jesus is the Son of God. (I John 5:4, 5)
One author suggested that when Paul wrote of the victory that is secured for the believer by the loving work of Christ, he seemed to imply that the usual [stand alone] “nike” was too weak a term and so, for the first and only time in scripture, he put the word hyper in front of it.
Adapted from Geoffrey W. Bromiley, Theological Dictionary of the New Testament (Eerdmans Publishing, 1985), p. 635
The security of the believer is super-victorious. Our security in Christ is above and beyond whatever the enemy may attempt to do - in and through Jesus Christ, we stand on victory’s side already!
Surely not, Paul. Victor’s in everything?
Yes, everything . . . even those things that seem to cause the greatest doubt and fear! Like these . . .
And now Paul begins to list 10 different things that we might think would separate us from the love of Christ.
Paul announces first in his list the great separator called death! He says, For I am convinced – I am persuaded – that death . . . will never separate us from the love of God”
Isn’t death the grand separator? Isn’t it the most feared of all?
Francis Bacon wrote, “Men fear death as children fear the dark.”
Quoted in James Montgomery Boice, Romans: Volume Two (Baker, 1992), p. 1000
Even Woody Allen, the comedian film director once said tongue in cheek, “I’m not afraid of death . . . I just don’t want to be there when it happens.”
Paul says, “I am persuaded . . . I am convinced.” When we talk about the things of God and his word, we often say, “Well, I think this is true . . . I suppose this is the way it is . . .”
Paul said, “I am convinced . . . I am absolutely persuaded that death is not a separator between the believer and Christ – in fact, it is the grand uniter. It only draw us closer to the presence of God’s glory and everlasting love.
Alexander MacLaren put it this way, “Death rends us apart from the world that it may bring us to God.”
Ibid, p. 1001
Donald Grey Barnhouse, a man I often quote, simply because he wrote an excellent and extensive commentary based on his preaching through Romans to his congregation in Philadelphia in the mid 1900’s. His wife died somewhat unexpectedly, leaving him with several young children. He wondered how he could explain the perspective of their mother’s death from eternity’s point of view. They were actually in the car, driving home from the funeral when they stopped at a red light. At that moment, a large truck pulled up beside them, casting a shadow over the car. Immediately, the Lord provoked Dr. Barnhouse’s thinking with an illustration. He asked the children, “Would you rather be run over by a truck or by the shadow of a truck?” “That’s easy, Daddy,” they replied, “We would rather get run over by the shadow, because that wouldn’t hurt us.” He then said to them, “Children, your mother just went through the valley of the shadow of death. Death doesn’t hurt – it’s only a shadow, as we travel on to heaven.”
Adapted from John MacArthur, Jr. Romans: Volume One (Moody Press, 1991), p. 516
Are you sure, Paul? “Oh, I am absolutely convinced.” Death is only the hand that opens heaven’s door.
Paul goes on to add the other side of the coin in these pairs of contrasting issues – neither death, nor life can separate us from Christ’s love.
Death is frightening . . . but life is dangerous! You mean there isn’t anything that can happen in life to separate you from the love of Christ?
Paul would say, “I’m convinced of it – and God has inspired His truth through me as I write these words.”
Jesus Christ said Himself, “And lo, I am with you always, even unto the end of the age – the end of the world.” (Matthew 28:20)
Literally, “even unto the end of the aion” How long is an aion – it’s the same word used to describe God in Romans 16:26 where Paul describes our eternal God . . .
I am with you always, even unto the end of eternity!
Matthew 28:20 was the life verse of David Livingstone, missionary/explorer to Africa. Again and again at the crisis points in his life, his biographer would later record, Livingstone would write Matthew 28:20 into his diary with the words, “These are the words of God, who is a Gentleman of the highest and most sacred honor . . . so that’s the end of it.”
That, my friend, is living under the influence of conviction – Jesus loves me, this I know, for the Bible tells me so!
Third, Paul informs us that we will never be separated from Christ by angels.
You might think this goes without saying, right? Indeed, Paul is referring here to good angels, since the opposite issue in this contrasting pair is the next word, “principalities”, a word Paul used to refer to demonic or fallen angels.
Is Paul suggesting that some good angel can change his status as confirmed in holiness and somehow separate the believer from Christ?
No. But what I believe Paul is doing in this list is bringing up issues that are mysterious and confusing and surrounded with superstition.
Death . . . angels . . . demons . . . the future . . . etc.
And the world of Paul was filled with religious superstition. They had errantly developed extensive beliefs in angels that had nothing to do with scripture, but everything to do with their own imaginations.
Rabbis of Paul’s day were actually teaching that everything had an angel. They were teaching that there were angels of the winds, of the clouds, of the snow and hail; of thunder and lightning, of cold and heat; in fact, they led the people to believe that there wasn’t anything in the world, not even a blade of grass that didn’t have an angel associated or attached to it.
William Barclay, The Letter to the Romans (Westminster Press, 1975), p. 117
Futhermore, the common belief was that even the good angels were a little put out by the fact that God had created mankind, whom the angels were to serve.
It seems here that Paul is addressing the superstition of his world when he says, “There isn’t any angel who could ever do anything to harm the opinion of Christ for you.
Next, fourth, Paul moves on to refer to the demonic world of fallen angels (arche).
He often used the Greek word “arche” to refer to the demonic world – such as in Ephesians 6:12 and Colossians 2:15.
Perhaps Paul was anticipating someone saying, “But couldn’t the Devil somehow separate us from the love of Christ?” The very word, “devil” in the Greek language “diabolos” means “to separate from . . . to set in opposition.”
Is it possible that the underworld could somehow cause us to be lost to Christ?
Paul writes, “I am convinced they cannot.” Why not?
“Because,” Paul wrote to the Colossians, “God made you alive with Christ. He forgave us all our sins, having canceled out the certificate of debt . . . having nailed it to the cross. When He had disarmed the rulers (same word in Romans 8:38) he disarmed the principalities . . . having triumphed over them through the cross. (Colossians 2:13-15)
Listen, the crosswork of Christ disabled any eternal threat of the arche – the principalities – the demonic world – to ever be able to separate the believer from the love of Christ.
Jesus Christ said, “I will build my church and the gates of Hades shall not prevail against it!” (Matthew 16:18)
Now Paul adds two more things that will not separate us.
- Nor things present 6. nor things to come.
In other words, there isn’t anything in your present and in your future that will erase your secure position as God’s beloved child.
7. Then Paul adds a singular thought at the end of verse 38. – nor powers.
Dunamis – this is the same word used in Acts 8:10 concerning Simon the Magician who was said to have supernatural power – dunamis.
Not only does the demonic world not have power to separate the believer from Christ, so also, demonically motivated and energized men and women as well as doctrines of demons cannot somehow curse the believer, cast a spell on the believer, cause the believer to suffer some bewitchment, some sorcery, some evil eye, so that they fall from the love of God in Christ.
There isn’t any need to fear Friday the thirteenth, or seeing a black cat walk across your path, or breaking a mirror, or walking under a ladder.
You can spill salt at the table, put up an umbrella indoors, and plan your wedding for the 13th, buy a black cat that crosses your path all day long . . . go ahead . . . these things have no power over or in the life of the child of God.
This past weeks issue of World Magazine included a brief article from the China Daily which reports that officials in South China have stopped issuing license plates with the number four on them. They apparently believe that the number, which sounds like the word for death, may be associated with a rise in traffic accidents. Many buildings in the region no longer have a fourth floor, and new cell-phone users can obtain compensation for having a number that ends with a four.
World Magazine, March 20, 2004, p. 11
The number “four” has some kind of power . . . some negative energy that causes bad things to happen.
I couldn’t help but think about my own home phone number which ends with 444. Man, I’m in triple trouble!
Before you think, “Oh those superstitious Chinese . . .” when’s the last time you went to the 13th floor of a building? They don’t have a 13th floor. That’s an unlucky number, right?
Listen, superstition cannot separate us from the love of God.
I think it’s interesting that you can translate this word, powers, dunamis, with the word, energy.
Again, the superstitions of Paul’s world and our world believed in the mystical, supernatural power of energy. One of the fastest growing applications of this is Feng Shui. The Chinese belief that parallels the Yin/Yang superstition that positive and negative energy flows through your body, your home, your business, your world. And this energy has power over the human and must be directed or cleansed or manipulated. Go to their web sites as I did and you can redesign your home to keep out the negative energy and bring in the positive energy. “Energy should be allowed to flow in a meandering, unbroken path through the front of your home to the back. A wind chime hung in the area of the front door will discourage negative energy from entering your home. A pair of male and female Foo dogs placed outside the entrance will serve as protectors of the home and will repel negativity.”
Cited in planetbonsai.com/feng_shui/tips/advice (3/27/2004)
The Apostle Paul says there isn’t any power in energy over the believer – God is creator, sustainer, protector, planner, overseer, designer, sovereign over all there is.
These beliefs are simply more ways Romans chapter 1 is applied in the lives of those who refuse the truth about God in Christ and instead of worshipping the Creator, they elevate and worship nature and created things.
There lives are governed by energy and not the Savior.
Now, Paul goes further and delves even deeper into the frightening, unknowable issues that are beyond our grasp and therefore develop fearful superstition at best and false worship at worst. He adds two more things to the list.
He writes in verse 39, (8) Nor height nor (9) depth.
At first glance this may seem to say that if you imagine a vertical line – as far as you go up and as far as you can travel down, you will never go beyond the reach of God’s love.
However, Paul uses two words brought doubt and uncertainty and confusion and even terror to the heart of the unbeliever, and probably, many uninformed believers.
Hupsoma (height) and bathos (depth) were astrological terms.
Height was a word that referred to the time when a star was at its zenith and its influence considered at its greatest point.
Depth was a word that referred to the time when the star was at its lowest, waiting as it were to rise and cast its influence on those borne under it.
In casting a horoscope the zenith or height of a star and the depth of a person’s star – or that configuration of planets and stars when they were borne, somehow cast power or influence over the things they will encounter and determine the way they should live and decide.
Solomon wrote, “Trust in the Lord with all your heart . . . don’t lean on your own understanding, but in all your ways acknowledge Him – affirm God – surrender to His leading and power and wisdom – and He will direct your path.”
Solomon wrote that in the face of thousands of years of astrology.
We don’t have time, but I must say that the Bible refers to the Satanic origin of Astrology – taking us all the way back to Babylon and the Tower of Babel. Most of us have been taught in Sunday School that the Tower of Babel was a really tall tower that they planned to build all they way to the heavens.
The Hebrew text includes italicized words that are supplied to give meaning to the text. Instead of rendering it, “The tower would reach to the heavens,” you could translate it, “The tower would be the heavens.”
In other words, in this tower there would be flat stone slabs representing the zodiac and its twelve signs of the sun. At least a dozen similar towers have been uncovered during the past century and a the top were zodiac whereby they could plot their horoscopes.
Their priests went about, hundreds of years before Paul wrote Romans, with a circle shaved into the hair on the back of their heads representing their devotion to their Zodiac god – the god of the sun, and millions of people devoutly touched their forehead and then their breast and then left shoulder and right, making the sign of the four points of the compass, and showing their devotion to the gods of the sun, moon and stars.
The world lived in the shadow of astrology when Jesus Christ came to earth!
Donald Grey Barnhouse, Romans: Volume Three (Eerdmans, 1959), p. 231
Make no mistake, the world of the 21st Century is as devoted to the stars and the world of the 1st Century.
Having rejected the Creator, they became bound as servants to the creation. Romans 1:21 Paul writes, “They became futile in their speculations and their foolish hearts were darkened.”
More than 12 million Americans changed their behavior or plans on the basis of an astrology report this past year.
Former presidents and heads of state have determined their travel schedules and political maneuvers by the stars.
Paul is in effect, saying to any believer who may be haunted by past experience or present doubts, “The stars cannot hurt you.” The stars do not govern your lives – they do not determine your destiny.
The power of the One true and living God, who created the stars, rules as sovereign in the universe.
For those who reject Him as their source of wisdom and direction, Proverbs quotes God in his horrifying warning, “Because I called and you refused; I stretched out my hand, and no one paid attention; and you neglected all my counsel, and did not want my reproof; I will even laugh at your calamity; I will mock when your dread come; then they will call on Me, but I will not answer; they will all seek me diligently, but they shall not find me; because they hated knowledge, and did not choose the fear of the Lord; they would not accept my counsel; therefore shall they eat of the fruit of their own way, and be filled with their own devices.” (Proverbs 1:28-31)
Paul adds one more to his list . . .
- Nor any other created thing shall be able to separate you
It’s as if Paul says, “Look, in case there’s something I possibly overlooked in the prior 16 things I’ve mentioned in this paragraph . . . this last one simply covers everything!
Since God created everything there is, there isn’t anything that exists that could possibly separate you from the love of God.
C. Saints are Secured by God’s Promise
Now notice Paul ends this song of assurance with the phrase, “the love of God, which is in Christ Jesus our Lord.”
In Christ . . . in Christ . . . favorite theme of Paul’s . . . in Christ Jesus our Lord.
Ladies and Gentlemen, the love of God is not just some principle . . . it is a person.
It isn’t some ethereal feeling from God . . . it is real fellowship with God through Jesus Christ.
Adapted from Roy L. Laurin, Romans: Where Life Begins (Kregel, 1988), p. 352
Bank on it . . . depend on this . . . be persuaded by this word from God!
You are eternally secure because God, the creator of everything, stooped to die for everything about you, so that nothing can now separate your from His everlasting, comprehensive, secure love.
Charles Spurgeon, on his deathbed, said to some of his final visitors, “As time has passed on, my theology has grown more and more simple. It is simply this, “Jesus Loves Me!”
Jesus loves me, this I know,
For the Bible tells me so,
Little ones to Him belong,
They are weak, but He is strong.
Yes, Jesus loves me . . . the Bible tells me so!
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